01/10/2017

Balance Schmalance

For the past couple of months, the SWTOR devs have been spending some time on class rebalancing. The latest round of changes announced for 5.5 included Commando healers, who will have pretty much every healing ability in their arsenal nerfed by X percent.

If you think this post is going to be some sort of thoughtful analysis of these changes, I'm sorry to disappoint. The truth is: I just don't care that much. That's actually why I always find class changes kind of annoying, regardless of whether they are nerfs or buffs. People constantly want to talk about them (usually in the form of lambasting Bioware for supposedly doing it all wrong) and everyone expects me to have an opinion on the matter. I usually don't mind that much when Bioware gives attention to an aspect of the game that doesn't interest me personally. However, usually it's also acknowledged that said updates just won't be relevant to everyone.

I'm continually perplexed by how many people seem to rate constant class changes as something that absolutely needs to be done. I get that they matter to hardcore PvPers, but surely there aren't that many of those? If you're just PvPing more casually... well, my main's class was pretty much universally rated as an easy kill for something like four years and I still had fun. And in PvE I don't recall a single instance since the game's launch where my guild had to ask someone to change class because whatever they were playing was underpowered and we wouldn't be able to bring them otherwise. And that's without even touching on the tens of thousands of people who just log on to do their quests... do you really think they will notice that ability X now does Y percent less damage?

I want to be understanding of why people care about class balance so much. I certainly get a glimpse of it when I look at GSF, which hasn't really been rebalanced since its launch. Strike fighters are just totally useless for example, there isn't anything that a scout can't do better, so nobody really plays the former. And that sucks! But even so, people are still queuing up and having fun. And balance between the actual player classes has never been so bad that a class couldn't participate at all.

I don't know how exactly the work at Bioware is distributed - I know that different people do different things - but I can't help but think there must be something more productive to do for the devs involved than to spend weeks poring over whether certain numbers should go up or down a bit.

4 comments :

  1. Every MMO I've ever played does this. I think it has more to do with the kind of people who make MMOs than those who play them.

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  2. Class balance...nice topic. Most of the time, i'm aware of the upcoming changes, but i really don't care much. When the specc of my main is involveld, i certainly am curious. I want to see if it feels different when i play. But most of the time the changes aren't that big. I can just improvise, adapt and overcome.

    I wonder if class rebalancing has something to do with giving people something to do. To give the game a fresh breeze. When a new FOTM class is born, hundreds of thousands of PvP'er are rerolling. And even in PvE you find people trying out a new specc.

    Stagnation is the end of the game. Changes are necessary. Something like that....

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  3. A problem is that the devs are pushing ranked PvP. With that you do want a reasonable class balance. It will never be perfect, but you can keep it close. Otherwise you get the 'strike fighter' issue in ranked (and unranked). :/

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  4. This is part of the reason why WoW drove me nuts when I was just a regular player. All the tweaks and balancing changes, for a normal PvE player, was ridiculous. It was only when I got into BGs where I realized how obsessive people got over the balancing act for PvP (and to a lesser extent raiding).

    While I do miss running Alterac Valley, I am glad I'm no longer on that part of the update train.

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